Four Seasons Punta Mita lies beside calm Banderas Bay in Nayarit on Mexico's west coast, one hour north of Puerto Vallarta. Opened in 1999, the resort stands on a peninsula within a secure, gated community. The property extends for 2,718 acres (9 miles are shoreline) and includes a 1,500-acre nature reserve. Behind it are the jungle peaks of the Sierra Madre Mountains.
The look of this tropical sanctuary is inspired by chic, tile-roofed Mexican beach homes. Accommodations consist of 173 guest rooms, including 32 suites. All face the water and open to a terrace or balcony to extend the view. Niceties and conveniences include TVs with with DVD players, iPod docking stations, and marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and terry bathrobes. Daily housekeeping and turndown service keep quarters looking fresh so you don't have to.
Favorite activities for guests who can drag themselves away from the beach or their private poolside cabana include snorkeling, surfing, and scuba diving. Couples who haven't dived before can participate in the resort's scuba program, which includes introductory classes and dives and PADI certification. More advanced divers can opt for shore, boat, kayak, and night dives. Advanced classes and certifications are also available. All scuba lessons are arranged through the concierge.
Apuane Spa at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita features indoor facilities as well as outdoor treatment areas within its acre spa garden. The Punta Mita massage, adopted by other Four Seasons spas uses tequila and sage oils from Huichol Indian healing rituals. The signature Hakali Massage uses prickly pear cactus, which yields oil rich in vitamin C, and pulque, an alcohol from the agave plant that is related to tequila and traditionally used for soothing skin.
Couples spa indulgences are available in the Apuane luxury suite that contains a jacuzzi, dry sauna, steam room and private patio. Honeymoon couples and other romantics may also request a seductive beachfront massage in a secluded palapa at twilight.
The par-72, 7,001-yard Jack Nicklaus-designed Pacifico Golf Course features The Tail of the Whale at the third hole. It's the world’s only golf hole on a natural island Players must hit the ball with a shot out into the Pacific, and then reach it via a rocky pathway. Don't be distracted by breeching humpback whales often seen in the surrounding waters. Ten tennis courts are also available, and frequent tennis clinics are scheduled.
Shoppers have a few on-premise shops to browse a well-edited selection of clothing for men, women, and children; jewelry from Mexican designers; and books.
Although the Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort permits children, it understands that romantic couples would rather not be disturbed by them. The adults-only Tamai Pool Complex is a true refuge with with sheltered pools and a whirlpool, its own bar. and ten well-furnished poolside cabanas. These contain a daybed with pillows, 42-inch plasma TV, a sound system, phone, Web access, a stocked bar, and a pair of lounge chairs. As sunset approaches, social guests make their way to the Tamai Pool Bar to toast another day's end with Champagne and caviar.
Richard Sandoval, perhaps Mexico's best-known chef, is behind the hotel's newish Bahia Coastal Latin Grill, where traditional latin flavors are enhanced with global ingredients. Ketsi restaurant near the pool serves meals and snacks from morning till night and also bears his imprint. And since it's the Four Seasons, you can basically have whatever your heart desires. Breakfast dishes, for example, range from a toasted bagel with smoked salmon to an egg-white vegetable frittata to panettone French toast to air-dried beef enchiladas with scrambled eggs, avocado, onion, tomato, serrano chile, and re-fried beans.
The best time to visit Four Seasons Punta Mita is during the cooler months, from November through May, when the heat and humidity are at levels most comfortable for couples who aren't accustomed to tropical weather.